Hardware required for watching 720p / 1080(i/p) ?

Discussion in 'MediaPortal 1 Talk' started by bvisser, March 8, 2007.

  1. bvisser

    bvisser Portal Member

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    Hey all. First of all I'd like to say that as an XBMC fan, MP looks like a great solution going into the future especially for HD.



    I do have a question I'm hoping someone can answer. I'm in the process of upgrading my hardware. I'd like to use my current pc (P4 2.4 Ghz, 1 gig ram) as a dedicated media player under media portal. It chokes on 720p, as it runs at a constant 100% cpu usage and the audio/video goes out of sync.

    I'm thinking of upgrading to a p4 3.06 ghz cpu for the machine, as it's a small form factor pc and absolutely perfect for a HTPC setup. Could anyone tell me if the cpu would be capable of playing HD content (mostly I'd be playing under the h264 codec).

    If anyone could tell me that'd be great. I don't want to lay down the cash and find I'm no better off with the faster processor.

    Thanks guys!
    - Brandon
     
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  3. sourada

    sourada Portal Member

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    You'll want to investigate the role of the video card/GPU, too. Lots of GPUs these days offer colorspace conversion, DCT acceleration, etc., which help in the performance of video playback. However, integrated GPUs, which maybe you're running in your SFF PC, are not all very strong in video acceleration.

    The problem is that I think it's a bit of an art to find the right combination of GPU and codec to get good speed.

    One thing I can say is that with my Athlon XP 3200/1GB/NVidia 6800 setup, I can watch 1080i or 720i at 1280x1024. The CPU hits about 75% at that point (I'm a little surprised that the CPU load is the same for either). So, it seems possible that the GPU in your setup may be the bottleneck, since my CPU alone probably wouldn't explain the difference in HD performance.
     
  4. knutinh

    knutinh Portal Pro

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    Anandtech has published tests of Bluray material at a peak rate of 41mbps and 1080@24p. I think this is a safe "worst case" material for now.

    They found that you could use something like a low-end Core2 (E6300-E6400) together with an Nvidia 8800, or a high-end Core2 X6800 alone without getting 100% cpu use (taken as a sign of possible frame-drops).

    I suspect that codecs will be refined so that you may be able to use slightly less powerful hardware shortly.

    Many people will tell you "no, no, I am playing back 1080p with my p4 2.0GHz just fine". Sadly, those people does not seem to understand that cpu use is a function of pixels/second, but also bits/second and codec amongs other things.

    regards
    Knut
     
  5. bvisser

    bvisser Portal Member

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    Ok. Yeah I have two video cards I could use for the setup. Currently I'm using a Radeon 9600 Pro 128 mb, i also have a Radeon 9800 Pro All In Wonder 128 mb. I'm not even going to bother trying the integrated video. Another possible bottleneck might be the AGP4X slot on the motherboard.

    The CPU itself would be a 3.06 ghz with a 533 mhz fsb, 1 gig of memory.

    Basically I want to buy this new cpu and hopefully future-proof the pc for home theater use. I'll be mainly using the h264 codec as I download almost all my tv shows.

    It's going to be a dedicated machine with nothing but XP sp2 and media portal running on it. Do you think these components would have the hoarse power to playback HD media ?

    I'm wondering what results people with similar systems are getting. It weirds me out that XBMC can *almost* do 720p with it's 733 mhz celeron and 64 mb ram (pretty hardcore frame dropping) but apparently the dreamx (which is just 1.4 ghz) can do 720p. Yet my p4 can't handle it. *shakes fist*
     
  6. gxtracker
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    gxtracker Retired Team Member

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    Thats weird that your system wont do at least 720p content. My system which is an athlon XP 2500+ with 512mb of RAM and an FX5200 will do 720p MPEG-4 content, but once I move to 1080i content it starts to drop frames.

    My box though is a dedicated HTPC, so it has nothing on it other than XP, MP, and FFDshow in reality.

    a 9600 pro can perform DX9 in hardware. I cant recommend the Purevideo codec since you're not using an NVidia card as I dont believe the option for hardware acceleration will have any effect on your system.
     
  7. idioteque
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    idioteque Retired Team Member

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    I have a X2 3800 and a Gforce 2Mx which peaks at 55% cpu playing a x264 720P
    I have a A64 3200 and a Gforce FX5500 which peaks at 100% cpu playing a x264 720P with a average of like 60-70
     
  8. player-x

    player-x Portal Pro

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    A x1300 ore a 6600gt are the medium video cards you have to use to play 720p
    Anything les Will get you in to problems also you CPU is on the slow side

    If you have a look at "my system" I have about the minimum you need to have full Pure-Video support
    And one of the guys over wrote a nice article over at AVforums what you should have for full playback

    I tried whit a 7300 but then i get jagged edges on strait lines like whit tennis cords and so on

    One thing also if you think of upgrading to a 3GHz P4 remember they get hot and hot things need loud fan's for cooling!
     
  9. nst6563

    nst6563 Portal Pro

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    If your not going to be doing any postprocessing, a lot of the decoding work can supposedly be dumped off onto the GPU now instead. Both Nvidia and ATI offer hardware decoding support for h.264 these days, you just have to use a compatible decoder (Purevideo and the latest Forceware drivers for Nvidia, and Cyberlink 7+ and the latest Catalyst drivers for ATI).

    Do remember though that only the ATI x1k series and the Nvidia 6xxx, 7xxx, and 8xxx series offer the hardware decoding support. Using a 9800pro will get you next to nothing as for hardware accelerated decoding of h.264. I wouldn't recommend anything less than the x1650xt if you go ATI for hardware accelerated h.264 though from what I've read. Not sure about the Nvidia side as for a 'minimum' card.

    here's a handy link to nvidia's reference on what purevideo features each gpu supports: http://www.nvidia.com/page/purevideo_support.html

    And upgrading the cpu would be a good idea as well...but I upgraded recently from a 3.2Ghz P4 to an AMD X2 4800+ and the new setup is MUCH easier to keep cool. May look into watercooling if you want silence with a higher end P4. Something with a large radiator (2x120 or 3x120) would do the trick nicely. Next to silent since you won't need the fans to be on anything but low.
     
  10. player-x

    player-x Portal Pro

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    No need to go water-cooling just pick the right components will do the trick

    I to have water-cooling but that's just in my game pc because of SLI and a Little overclocking and wanted to have it silent

    But i got my HTPC even more silent then my game pc audible only if you get whit in 20-30cm of the case.

    Look at the components i used you dint have to use them but they are a nice guide to start whit what type you need to get

    On the other hand just a second hand (p4 and a) 6 serie video card and just have a go and change later for some silent stuff
     
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